THERE'S £10 million to help Fifers this winter but a grim warning that the cost of living crisis "is going to be worse than Covid".

At the recent cabinet committee meeting, council leader David Ross outlined plans for a community recovery fund to try and alleviate some of the challenges heading our way.

He said officers are already working on plans, including a warm places initiative, hardship and fuel support work, food provision and school meal debt, with more detailed proposals to come at the next meeting on September 22.

SNP councillor John Beare said: "We know there's an absolute tsunami of costs and bills not only coming to the council but to our communities and those less well able to bear it.

"Whether it's general inflation hitting a possible 18 per cent or the astonishing energy costs, in a country that actually exports energy, it is absolutely unacceptable in this day and age.

"Economic commentators have said whatever's coming at us is going to be worse than Covid."

Cllr Ross said that £10m from their balances – money earmarked for Covid recovery – will set a community recovery fund in motion.

The public will also be consulted and asked for ideas, and decisions on how the money will be spent will be devolved to area committees.

He added: "It's all very well keeping reserves for a rainy day but that rainy day is now here and we need to be making the best use of those reserves going forward."

SNP councillors had accused the ruling Labour group of "doing nothing" over the summer to help Fifers already struggling with their bills.

However, Cllr Ross said: "To suggest nothing has been happening is just not true."

He explained: "We've had a full programme, a whole range of activities over the summer with Cafe Inc, a benefits take up campaign about to go out, help with fuel costs for tenants and support for tenants and homeowners through Cosy Kingdom and other fuel poverty measures.

"We have distributed a range of grant funding from Scottish and UK governments, and the Scottish Welfare Fund, our own hardship funds and small grants scheme and, less tangible things, free access to leisure facilities for young people over the summer and support for the Big House project to get household goods out to families that need them.

"But I think we all recognise that there will be more needed over the Autumn and winter."

Cllr Derek Glen said an "appallingly high" number of people will be affected while Cllr David Barratt said 78 per cent of Scottish households are predicted to enter fuel poverty this winter.

The SNP accepted Cllr Ross' motion, and Cllr Beare's amendment asking for working groups to check details and clarify proposals ahead of the next meeting was accepted, but asked why it had taken so long.

He said: "There's a question why it's taken 112 days to decide it's now going to take 143 days to actually assist those in our communities who are already under pressure with their electricity bills and no clarity at all about how our communities are going to be engaged in this process of allocating money."

Cllr Linda Erskine responded: "The work that's been suggested here has been ongoing since May and this motion merely reaffirms what's actually happening.

"Don't think that for 112 days, as some councillors are suggesting, that there's been nothing going on. That's just ludicrous."

Cllr Altany Craik said the "particularly good financial position", and opportunity to use reserves, was in stark contrast to previous years where they'd had to make cuts and savings.

He added: "We've had money dumped in our balances over the last couple of years with more rings round it than an Olympic flag but it's an attempt to try and support us.

"It's not within our gift to mitigate all the impacts of the governments of Holyrood or Westminster, that's not our role, but we are the closest to our communities so it's our opportunity to try and make sure we get the right intervention at the right level."